What a season!
As I made the drive home Saturday from Allentown through a driving rain, and a slight detour, it hit me just how lucky I am.
Mid Valley had just lost to a very talented Conwell-Egan team, but not before giving one heck of an effort. It brought to a close another exciting basketball season for me and during that evening journey, I actually got the chance to do what I encourage every player, coach and fan to do at this time of the year. … Cherish the experience.
Now, I have gotten to do this longer than most. Heck, somehow, I have defied the odds and am still at it after 18 years. I have a lot less hair and more of it is gray. But I still love it. I enjoy the kids and the coaches, and I even enjoy the fans, when they are rational and not blasting me.
Any way, I found it interesting. Our preseason Top 10 came out while I was vacationing in Florida as I do every two years. It’s nice to take the kids to Disney World. They love it.
But, I couldn’t ease into the season. No, no. I had a team playing in the state football championship game, as I always do when I go to Disney, and basketball season was tipping off.
So, cue the music:
The first team that I covered this year, was also the last team I covered.
That’s right, my 2014-15 season began at the Cal King Tournament at Lackawanna Trail High School. It was a Friday before the PIAA Class AA championship game between Dunmore and South Fayette. That night, the one thing that stood out was that I thought Mid Valley played stingy enough defense to be a real factor this year.
I was right!
That was just the start of what was a very thrilling season. I made my own personal goal to see as many teams as I could in the Lackawanna League. I owe that to the players and coaches, and I do the VERY best I can. This year was my best year to say the least.
I covered games and personally saw the following teams:
Scranton Prep, Abington Heights, Valley View, West Scranton, Scranton, Honesdale, Wallenpaupack, Holy Cross, Mid Valley, Dunmore, Riverside, Lakeland, Old Forge, Carbondale Area, Montrose, Lackawanna Trail, Forest City and Mountain View.
That’s not too bad. … 18 of 24 teams. For those who I missed, I apologize.
I covered a total of 46 boys games this winter with an all-star game ahead of me on March 24.
During the Christmas break, I covered the Forest City Rotary Championship game; the Lynett Memorial Basketball Championship; the Peter Turonis Championship and the Taylor Lions Championship.
I saw Holy Cross coach Al Callejas reach 400 career wins and Honesdale win a game for their coach Tim Wood so he could reach a milestone while he tended to a family emergency.
One of the real highlights of the season is getting to profile great players and programs for the In the Paint Page and of course as our teams compete in the postseason.
I was there when Montrose’s Troy Ely drilled a last-second shot to seize control of the Division IV race.
I was there when Scranton Prep beat Abington Heights and Honesdale in back-to-back nights to all but wrap up the Division I crown.
One of the most cherished moments was meeting and doing a feature on Scranton’s Bill Foster. You all remember this one, I am sure!
I was also there every step of the way as Holy Cross and Mid Valley battled to the bitter end splitting four games and two championships. Holy Cross won the Division III crown and Mid Valley captured the District 2 Class AA title.
And of course was there for Scranton Prep’s dominant run in Class AAA.
I was right back at it when Abington Heights won a championship in Class AAAA.
And I was on the scene when Mid Valley hoisted the plaque in Class AA at Lackawanna College.
I was also there as the seasons ended for Old Forge, Scranton Prep and Mid Valley in the state playoffs. And each team handled their losses with class and dignity. The kids were so mature and, as painful as it was, still talked to me after each game.
Look, there are a lot of long hours and planning that goes into covering a high school sports season. But the efforts of the kids and the memories they forge, not only for themselves, but for me are worth it.
So, I close out the season with a big THANK YOU.
I loved every minute of it.